128MB or 256MB for running large external display?

Wolfpup

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Sep 7, 2006
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I've eliminated the Macbook as a possibility since I'm told it runs sluggishly when used with an external display, which I'll be doing 8 hours a day (or more).

How well does the Macbook Pro with the 128MB 8600GT fair in that situation? Will there be any improvement with the 256MB model? Hate to spend $500 for basically just that one improvement.
 

netdog

macrumors 603
Feb 6, 2006
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I think the question is whether you are going to be running any 3d imaging software, games or rendering a lot of video. Those are the reasons that I would get 256MB of VRam.
 

Wolfpup

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Sep 7, 2006
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I have been a big PC gamer, but all the DRM issues (Starforce, Steam, activation, etc.) are pushing me away from it-Bioshock is kind of the last straw.

So if I get this I won't be using it too heavily for games. I will be doing video conversion (from my Tivo) and possibly burn some DVDs from that, but I wouldn't think the GPU would affect that.

But I do need to make sure it can handle an external display at the same time at at least 1900ish lines of resolution (a 24" screen I may buy), with a ton of programs open on both displays, playing video at the same time, etc.
 

fr4c

macrumors 65816
Jul 27, 2007
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the 128MB version should be fine, as I do something similar with my HP laptop to 19" Samsung external running a 128MB ATI X200M (which is no where close to 8600GT M specs). however graphics intense apps and video editing may lag it up a bit.

my suggestion is that if youre only doing basic video/app on the 24" screen, then the 128MB shouldnt be a problem. screens bigger than 24" that also involve intense graphics, youre much safer going with the 256MB.

also realize the price difference between the 2.2 and 2.4 is not only VRAM, but also proc speed and HD space (for stock units).
 

techlover828

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Jun 28, 2007
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I've eliminated the Macbook as a possibility since I'm told it runs sluggishly when used with an external display, which I'll be doing 8 hours a day (or more).

How well does the Macbook Pro with the 128MB 8600GT fair in that situation? Will there be any improvement with the 256MB model? Hate to spend $500 for basically just that one improvement.
How large, I have a 22" dell my macbook pro runs great on it
 

Wolfpup

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Sep 7, 2006
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Probably 1900x1200ish at most.

Honestly I'd probably get a Macbook except it apparently won't handle an external display well.
 

munckee

macrumors 65816
Oct 27, 2005
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I've eliminated the Macbook as a possibility since I'm told it runs sluggishly when used with an external display, which I'll be doing 8 hours a day (or more).

How well does the Macbook Pro with the 128MB 8600GT fair in that situation? Will there be any improvement with the 256MB model? Hate to spend $500 for basically just that one improvement.
What exactly are you going to be doing with it? I spend lots of time with my macbook hooked up to a 24" Dell and it functions fine. There's an ever-so-slight slowdown when pulling up expose functions, but it's really not very noticeable.
 

tilman

macrumors regular
Feb 28, 2006
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You don't need more than a few MB for *display* purposes. If you are playing back a video clip, or watching a slideshow of photos, any extra video memory just sits idle. The extra memory is used only when the video processor is tasked to do any processing of its own, for example, to generate 3D effects in a video game. Then it uses that extra memory as it's working memory.
 

Wolfpup

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Sep 7, 2006
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What exactly are you going to be doing with it? I spend lots of time with my macbook hooked up to a 24" Dell and it functions fine. There's an ever-so-slight slowdown when pulling up expose functions, but it's really not very noticeable.
Wait...so your Macbook DOES handle a 24" screen fine? It's just Expose that has a slight slowdown? And the display looks normal and everything? The output is clean?

I'll be using this every single day, all day, so kind of important to me :)
 

Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
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Indianapolis
Wait...so your Macbook DOES handle a 24" screen fine? It's just Expose that has a slight slowdown? And the display looks normal and everything? The output is clean?

I'll be using this every single day, all day, so kind of important to me :)
The biggest issue with integrated graphics is the shared memory architecture. I notice graphical slowdowns just from my system and video operations being carried entirely over one bus.

You're not going to notice this on a smaller screen. The Santa Rosa platform should alleviate some of this with the faster FSB.
 

vicious7

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2007
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Jacked into the net...
128MB of VRAM should run an external display with no issues. I do a lot of PS and FCP work on my new laptop with a borrowed ACD while I wait for mine to arrive and I am not seeing any slowdowns, yet. And expose is fine.
 

munckee

macrumors 65816
Oct 27, 2005
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Wait...so your Macbook DOES handle a 24" screen fine? It's just Expose that has a slight slowdown? And the display looks normal and everything? The output is clean?

I'll be using this every single day, all day, so kind of important to me :)
Yup, works perfectly fine for my needs (which include a lot of photo editing and advanced photoshop and CS3 work). External screen looks perfectly fine to me. I do have 3GB of ram, so that might help some :confused:

I went through much the same issue when trying to decide between a macbook and a pro. I was coming from a powerbook, so my initial inclination was to get the Pro. But after researching and reading, I took a slight gamble and bought the regular macbook figuring that I could sell it and step up to a pro later if it wasn't up to the job. So far, it's been fantastic though. No regrets at all.
 

wallaby

macrumors 6502
Jun 5, 2007
397
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Iowa
My SR MBP has 128 mb VRAM, and I regularly hook it up to a 19" external LCD at 1280x1024 resolution. It plays games like Half-Life 2 at native res and everything turned up to maximum (besides AA). Battlefield 2142 also plays perfectly, although at 1024x768 since the demo doesn't support any of my native resolutions. No slowdown, no hiccup. Just a hot MacbookPro (literally).
 

ooklac

macrumors newbie
Jul 31, 2007
2
0
munckee said:
Yup, works perfectly fine for my needs (which include a lot of photo editing and advanced photoshop and CS3 work). External screen looks perfectly fine to me. I do have 3GB of ram, so that might help some
How did you get 3 GB in the MB? The apple site says the max is 2 GB.

I'm glad to hear the 24" dell works fine, since I'm close to pulling the trigger on the lowend MB and the 24" dell. Have you tried any video editing with this setup? Any slowdown on anything besides expose?

Thanks.
 

munckee

macrumors 65816
Oct 27, 2005
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How did you get 3 GB in the MB? The apple site says the max is 2 GB.

I'm glad to hear the 24" dell works fine, since I'm close to pulling the trigger on the lowend MB and the 24" dell. Have you tried any video editing with this setup? Any slowdown on anything besides expose?

Thanks.
The C2D macbooks will address up to 3GB with some trade offs between extra ram vs. running dual channel. I decided that, for me, the extra ram was worth it.

Fraid I can't comment on the video editing. But seriously, it works fine. I had it hooked up to a 23" acrylic ACD before I got the Dell, and never noticed ANY slowdowns at all (including expose). For whatever reason, the Dell does have just that minor slowdown, but its really barely notable. Definitely not enough to think twice about getting a macbook or the Dell 24".
 

panzer06

macrumors 68040
Sep 23, 2006
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Kilrath
Wait...so your Macbook DOES handle a 24" screen fine? It's just Expose that has a slight slowdown? And the display looks normal and everything? The output is clean?

I'll be using this every single day, all day, so kind of important to me :)
Sure, my Macbook CD 2.0 works with my Samsung 20 inch 1600x1200 with no issues. Only lags if I try to run 1080p across both displays (spanning the video between internal and external screens)

I use this all day without issue. You need the 2GB of RAM but that's not an issue anymore.

Cheers,
 

Wolfpup

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Original poster
Sep 7, 2006
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Sure, my Macbook CD 2.0 works with my Samsung 20 inch 1600x1200 with no issues. Only lags if I try to run 1080p across both displays (spanning the video between internal and external screens)

I use this all day without issue. You need the 2GB of RAM but that's not an issue anymore.

Cheers,
So you're saying the Macbook can even run HD video, just not split across both displays? (Which obviously isn't a big deal!)

I really appreciate all these responses. I'm not scared by the 128MB Macbook Pro at all any more, and it's sounding like the Macbook would be fine for me too, since at worse I'll be running it on a 24" Dell.
 

Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
29,080
287
Indianapolis
So you're saying the Macbook can even run HD video, just not split across both displays? (Which obviously isn't a big deal!)

I really appreciate all these responses. I'm not scared by the 128MB Macbook Pro at all any more, and it's sounding like the Macbook would be fine for me too, since at worse I'll be running it on a 24" Dell.
1080p decoding is processor bound.
 

Wolfpup

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Sep 7, 2006
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Ya know, regarding HD video...I really hope that you're going to be able to add an external Blu Ray drive to a Macbook/Macbook Pro, and use it for playback of course.

They're pricey now, but it's getting to the point where I'd seriously consider getting (or at least renting) a Blu Ray version of a movie over DVD.
 

Wolfpup

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Sep 7, 2006
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1080p decoding is processor bound.
Although the Geforce 8600 offloads it-or can with the right drivers I should say. Some benchmarks over on (I think) Anandtech were amazing. Dropped CPU utilization down from like 80% to 15% on a pretty modern CPU when playing back a Blu Ray disc.
 

Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
29,080
287
Indianapolis
Although the Geforce 8600 offloads it-or can with the right drivers I should say. Some benchmarks over on (I think) Anandtech were amazing. Dropped CPU utilization down from like 80% to 15% on a pretty modern CPU when playing back a Blu Ray disc.
If you have drivers that take advantage of it.